Loggerhead Shrike —Ross Feldner

Looking like a black-masked bandit this distinctive bird is also known as the “butcherbird” because of its habit of skewering its prey on thorns or barbed wire before it eats it. Planning ahead, they will amass prey as security against leaner times.

The “shrike” part of its name is derived from an Old English work for “shriek” which is a reference to its harsh sounds while the “loggerhead” part is a reference to the large head in relation to its body.

Loggerhead Shrikes are extremely territorial with both male and females defending their territory. They hunt from high perches, scanning the area and then pouncing on their prey which includes insects, snakes, lizards, small mammals and birds.

This bird is in decline almost 80% since 1966 largely due to chemical pesticides they ingest in their prey as well as habitat loss due to agriculture.

Loggerhead Shrike
Fun Facts

Its genus name, Lanius, comes from the Latin word “butcher”.

Also known as the "thornbird."

These shrikes have specialized “teeth” which are used to kill vertebrate prey by a strike to the nape of the neck.

There are 11 recognized subspecies of Loggerhead Shrike.

The male feeds the female while she incubates.

A group of shrikes are called a “watch.”

They shop around for nest sites, often looking at numerous locations before deciding on one.

Loggerhead Shrikes eat the heads and abdomens of toxic lubber grasshoppers but discard the insect's poisonous thorax.

Click here to watch shrike feeding its young.

Click here to hear their odd raspy calls.


Rachel Carson Council
8600 Irvington Avenue  | Bethesda, Maryland 20817-3604
(301) 214-2400 | office@rachelcarsoncouncil.org

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